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OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements


Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to promote safe and healthful working conditions for American workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the overseer of the Act, strives to meet this goal by creating and enforcing workplace safety standards and by training American employers on safety issues. One of the ways that OSHA ensures compliance with the Act is by requiring employers to record and report on-the-job injuries and illnesses. OSHA uses this data to determine where improvement is needed, both at a particular worksite and throughout the nation. OSHA has required recordkeeping and reporting since 1971. OSHA recently overhauled its recordkeeping rules.


Every employer, regardless of size or business, must, within eight hours, orally report to OSHA any incident that involves the death of a worker or the hospitalization of three or more workers. This requirement does not include most highway accidents. It does, however, include deaths from heart attacks.

Aside from this requirement, employers with 10 or fewer workers are generally exempt from OSHA illness and injury recordkeeping requirements. Additionally, certain “low-hazard industries,” like banks and certain retail establishments, are partially exempt from OSHA recordkeeping regulations. the recordkeeping requirements cover all industries in the agriculture, construction, manufacturing, transportation, utilities and wholesale trade sectors.

Scope of Recordkeeping Requirement

Employers who are not exempt from OSHA recordkeeping requirements must record any workplace illnesses or injuries that result in:

  • Death,
  • Missed work,
  • Transfer to another job,
  • Restricted work,
  • Medical Treatment (beyond first aid),
  • Loss of consciousness, or
  • Significant injury or illness diagnosed by a doctor.

It is important to note that some injuries that occur at the job-site are not work-related. Employers are not required to keep records of these incidents. For example, problems stemming from eating and drinking, common colds, exercise programs, and blood donations need not be reported. Furthermore, employers are not required to keep records of illnesses or injuries that were successfully treated with first aid like aspirin, bandages, or tetanus shots.

Reporting System

Employers are required to keep their records for five years following the year they cover. To successfully implement their recordkeeping programs, employers must ensure that all employees know that they must report all work-related injuries or illnesses. Employees are also allowed to review an employer’s workplace safety records.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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